See also: Combat skill
Skills are used by dwarves to accomplish almost every task in the game. Higher levels of a skill allow a dwarf to accomplish the respective task more quickly and/or more effectively. Whenever a skill is used, experience is gained for that skill, allowing the dwarf to progress to higher skill levels. Creatures aside from dwarves may also possess skills that match what species they are (e.g. cats and monkeys having legendary skill in climbing).
If a dwarf does not use a skill for a prolonged period of time, the skill will be labeled "rusty." If the rusty skill continues to remain unused, it will eventually be labeled "very rusty," or "V rusty" in-game. Skills remaining at 'very rusty' for prolonged periods of time will gradually suffer permanent experience loss. It is not possible to know in-game whether a given skill has suffered level loss, but any utility capable of reading exact XP levels will show a skill with a lost level as being at 100% of the XP required to take it to the next skill level. See Rust below for more details.
To determine what skills a dwarf has, press v and highlight the dwarf, then press g to ensure you are on the general information page. The skills will be grouped into three toggleable types: combat, labor and miscellaneous skills. Included on the list are the levels of each skill, and, if applicable, "rusty" or "V rusty" notifications.
Skill level names
The names of skill levels are as follows, in order of the experience required to achieve them:
||This level isn't displayed on the "prepare for journey carefully" screen.
||Maximum possible skill level for dwarves while "preparing for journey carefully".
||Maximum possible skill for any creature in the object testing arena.
Skills in use
Blinking legendary dwarves.
Skills are never referred to in-game by "level number", but for all practical purposes, that is how they are treated by the game. "Dabbling" is not functionally a level, with "Novice" being level 1, and "Legendary" being any level 15 and up.
All skills take (400 + 100 * the new level) experience points to gain a level, meaning Novice takes 500 experience points, and reaching Legendary from Grand Master takes 1900 experience points, or 18000 total experience.
Many skills can gain practical levels beyond level 15, or "Legendary". Crafting skills with quality have a functional maximum of level 20, or "Legendary +5" as it is often called. This is used in determining item quality, where skill level is tested with a series of "dice rolls" against successively higher targets. A Legendary +5 dwarf has a skill level of 20, which means they are guaranteed exceptional quality (quality level 4) unless they "critically fail" one of the quality rolls, and they additionally have a fairly decent percentage roll to succeed at making a masterwork. As legendary levels increase, the odds of obtaining a less than exceptional craft decrease, and masterwork is a flat 1/3rd chance (and 10 higher on the roll). Raw rolls still increase linearly. Attributes and traits now play a role in crafting, however, so there are subtle layers of complexity in that.
Labors with or without quality often have a time period associated with them, and skill levels reduce this significantly. Legendary +5 can eliminate all time required to do a job down to a single action, exponentially increasing productivity.
Combat skills can scale upwards to a functionally impossible-to-reach degree, meaning that simply reaching Legendary in a combat skill only means they've just started climbing the ranks of the legendary warriors of Dwarf Fortress. A Legendary +100 warrior will hit more regularly and deal more damage than a "mere" Legendary +10, although it takes nearly three-quarters of a million more experience points to get there.
Dwarves which are suffering from various status ailments will have all of their skill levels reduced, causing them to work slower and produce lower-quality goods where relevant. The latter is unimportant for non-quality tasks such as wood cutting or furnace operating, but you may want to delay construction of, say, platinum statues or steel breastplates, if the smith forging them is famished or hollow-eyed from lack of sleep.
Each of the following status ailments can impact a Dwarf's skills:
- Nausea - reduce by 50%1
- Winded - reduce by 50%1
- Stunned - reduce by 50%1
- Dizzy - reduce by 50%1
- Fever - reduce by 50%1
- Blind - reduce by 75%1
- Extreme Pain - reduce by 75%12
- Tired - reduce by 25%1
- Over-Exert - reduce by 25% twice1
- Exhausted - reduce by 25% three times1
- Dehydrated - reduce by 50%
- Starving - reduce by 50%
- Very Drowsy - reduce by 50%
- Thirsty for Blood - reduce by 25% or 50%, depending on severity
- 1 - Does not apply to dwarves who are Enraged, in a Martial Trance, or throwing a Tantrum
- 2 - Does not apply to dwarves who are in a Strange Mood or are Insane
Notably, having multiple status ailments will result in cumulative penalties - for example, being both Stunned and Dizzy will cause all skill levels to drop by 75%.
Skills, attributes and traits
- Skills and attributes:
- .. are both trained by being used in activities they relate to.
- .. both influence future success of these activities, like craft quality, work speed, combat survivability, accuracy and damage.
- The dwarf's profession is determined by their highest-ranking skill group.
- crafting skills are increased by preferences, but capped, so the dwarf will make items beyond their skill level, but won't affect the chances of making more high-value items at the highest skill level.Verify
- The dwarf's highest moodable skill determines potential artifact types during a strange mood.
- can be changed (at least beliefs change through arguments).
- affect which social skills gain experience (if the dwarf has X trait it will not gain experience in X skill) at all.
- give thoughts when performing certain activities.
- influence choice of artifact materials.
To summarize, it goes like this:
Thought <--triggers-- Activity ----trains----> Attribute
^ ,----------| |
modifies modifies trains increases
| ,--------' | |
| v v v
Trait --influences--> Skill --increases--> Dwarf performance
item item |
material type determines
| ,--------' |
v v v
Artifact <--chosen-- Profession
Since the same skills can be used by various professions, and the same attributes are trained by various skills, this allows for cross-training.
As traits can limit learning some skills, which can be required by some Noble positions, the need arises to:
- avoid appointing a dwarf that will never learn a certain skill to a Noble position that uses it:
- appoint a dwarf with a useful effect given by a trait to a profession that benefits from it:
Every skill has the following set of improvement and decay counters, which are caste specific:
[SKILL_RATE] (Default is
* % of improvement points you get (Default 100)
* unused counter rate (Default 8)
* rust counter rate (Default 16)
* demotion counter rate (Default 16)
The unused counter starts incrementing while a dwarf isn't using a skill. Once it reaches the cap, it will reset to zero, and the rust counter rate will increment by 1. This continues until the rust counter's cap is reached, and then the demotion counter is incremented by 1, and the rust counter is reset to zero. When the demotion counter finally reaches its cap, a 'layer' of rust is added to the skill, and the demotion counter is reset to zero.
The Rusty and V.Rusty descriptions which are appended to a skill within Dwarf Fortress are determined by the following conditions:
- Rusty: A skill level greater than 0 and less than 4, and the skill level * 0.5 <= the number of rust layers.
- Very Rusty: A skill level greater than or equal to 4, and the skill level * 0.75 <= the number of rust layers.
For example, a level 3 skill with 4 layers of rust: 3 * 0.5 = 1.5 which is less than the 4 layers of rust, so it's a Rusty skill. A level 8 with 6 layers of rust: 8 * 0.75 = 6 which is equal to the layers of rust, so it's a Very Rusty skill.
In testing it appears that the layers of rust are limited to a maximum of 6. If the counters reach the maximum and it attempts to increase to a 7th layer of rust, all counters are stopped, and the 'Rusty' and 'V. Rusty' descriptions are erroneously removed from the skill descriptions within Dwarf Fortress.
Randomly generated musical instruments and musical compositions are also considered skills and gain experience from use, though it is not clear how greater skill levels affect anything or if these performance-related skills rust.